Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. —1 Corinthians 15:12–19 (ESV)
Paul appears to be rather animated as he speaks to the Corinthian church about Christ’s resurrection. Though Paul doesn’t say what is making them disbelieve, it was a common thought in Greek culture that bodily death was the end of all life. It’s possible that this cultural view crept into the Corinthian church, tempting them to turn away from the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection.
In today’s text, Paul’s emphasis is that belief in Christ’s resurrection from the dead is necessary for one to call themselves a Christian. In verse 19 he says, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all a people most to be pitied.” Why is this so? Why is it that Christ’s resurrection is important to our faith? It is because Christ’s resurrection from the dead guarantees the Christian’s eventual resurrection from physical death to eternal life. Death hasn’t been defeated if Christ didn’t rise from the dead. In other words, if Christ didn’t rise from the dead, then our lives also end on this earth. Thankfully, that’s not true. The Christian’s hope is not in this world, but in the eternal reality to come.
May you and I never grow numb to the greatness and glory that is Christ’s resurrection. Today, remember that our hope is not built on our job or even our family, but our hope is in the gospel of Jesus Christ! It is only as we fix our eyes on the eternal reality that Christ makes available to us, that the cares of this world, pale in comparison. Death could not hold its grip on Jesus. He conquered death and was raised from the dead, and Jesus promised that those who believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. And that gives me reason to smile.